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Posted at 06:17 PM ET, 01/03/2012

Open beer containers found in SUV in fatal Bethesda crash, police say

Open and closed containers of beer were found in the SUV that crashed at about 3 a.m. New Year’s Day in Bethesda, killing two people and injuring three others, all of them between the ages of 18 and 22.

Montgomery County police spokesman Capt. Paul R. Starks said Tuesday that the containers were found in both the front and back areas of the SUV’s interior but that investigators have not yet determined whether alcohol was a factor in the crash in the 4400 block of westbound Jones Bridge Road near Lancaster Drive.

Lab tests on the five occupants of the vehicle will not be available for several weeks, said Starks.

Killed in the one-car crash were Nicholas S. Clayton, 20, and Kaitlin M. Gallagher, 18, according to police. Both were passengers and police could not immediately determine if they had fixed addresses.

Seriously injured in the crash was the man police said was the driver, Roderick E. Brice II, 22, of Clarksburg. Police said two other passengers suffered non-life-threatening injuries: Conor J. Hayes, 18, of Rockville, and Kevin S. Russel, 19, of Chevy Chase.

Police said the white 2007 Chevrolet Trail Blazer carrying the five left the road, jumped a sidewalk and struck a tree before coming to a stop at a fence. The three survivors were wearing seat belts, Starks said. It is under investigation whether the two passengers killed wore seat belts at the time of the collision, he said.

The scene is the third major fatal collision in less than a week under investigation by the police department’s Collision Reconstruction Unit. It follows a Dec. 28 crash on Rockville Pike near Alta Vista Road in which police said a truck driver was killed after he crossed a median on Rockville Pike and hit a Metrobus, injuring that driver and several passengers. On Dec. 29, a driver and a passenger died in a one-car crash on University Boulevard East at Piney Branch Road that also injured a second passenger, police said.

By  |  06:17 PM ET, 01/03/2012

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